The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Moviment Graffitti calls for investigation into expropriations, Infrastructure Malta chief

Monday, 19 July 2021, 11:34 Last update: about 16 days ago

Moviment Graffitti is calling for an investigation into expropriations carried out by Infrastructure Malta after the roadworks agency was “again caught trespassing onto a farmer’s land in Żabbar without having reached any agreement with the owner and without the consent of the Lands Authority.”

In a statement, the NGO said that Infrastructure Malta is “acting in breach of the applicable laws by entering citizens’ property without agreeing on expropriations. What happened in Zabbar is no different to what happened in Dingli, and countless other places in which IM simply entered farmers’ lands, knocked down walls, destroyed soil and crops, covered the area in tarmac and left without compensation.”

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The group said that Infrastructure Malta was bound to follow the Lands Authority expropriation procedures, and valuations were to be made and decided upon by the latter. “However, it emerges that in some cases IM never sent expropriation requests to the Lands Authority, leaving landowners without compensation”

In a statement, Moviment Graffitti referred to a recent interview given by Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, who said that he was informed that IM had reached separate agreements with landowners to speed up the process.

However, the group warned that Infrastructure Malta was going round offering landowners an agreement “which included a valuation of the land to be expropriated. This piece of paper is worthless, since the law establishes that the land will be valued by the Lands Authority and its architects, not by Infrastructure Malta. Anyone signing this paper is giving Infrastructure Malta access to their land, but there is no guarantee this agency can honour the agreed valuations, because those fall under the Lands’ Authority remit.”

“Minister Borg should be wary of misleading the public about this agreement,” the group said. “It is not true that all landowners had signed such agreements. Dr Borg and Ing Azzopardi had initially refused to discuss expropriations with some Dingli landowners back in April, clearly unwilling to open what has now become a can of worms.”

Moviment Graffitti said it is getting legal advice and looking at potential legal action against Infrastructure Malta and its CEO Fredrick Azzopardi.

“Borg himself recently hinted in the media that ‘any party without a direct interest’ may take its case to the relevant authorities,” the group said. “Borg claims he believes in the rule of law, and so do we. So for once we will take up his word. We are getting legal advice from our lawyers,” the NGO said.

Moviment Graffitti also called on the Police Commissioner to ensure the Force is informed of the correct procedures to be followed by Infrastructure Malta with regards to expropriations.

“In Dingli and in Żabbar, law enforcement immediately sided with Infrastructure Malta and took their word on everything. Infrastructure Malta and their representatives lied to the police when they said they had all the necessary paperwork in hand. Police officers did not intervene to protect citizens and investigate the matter, but instead chose to believe the agency without having seen a shred of paperwork. We believe the Police Commissioner is responsible for the upholding of the law, and that the Force has a duty to step in and protect the citizen from such bullying.”

The group is also asking the public to come forward with any information they may have about unpaid expropriations, and called on landowners who haven’t been compensated to contact the group via its Facebook page or by email on [email protected] All information will be treated with the strictest confidence.

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